Muensterman or not, Mater Dei is favorite in Class 2A sectional

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By Larry Goffinet

Mater Dei’s girls basketball team won the Class 2A state championship last year and is heavily favored to repeat that honor.

That’s bad news for Perry Central and Tell City, which will compete in the Forest Park sectional with Mater Dei this week.
If the Wildcats at least win the regional, they will move up to Class 3A next year under the IHSAA’s new system of advancement based on a two-year success factor.
With 5-foot-10 all-state guard Maura Muensterman and 6-2 center Tori Schickel back next year, Mater Dei should be one of the favorites for the Class 3A state title.
The Forest Park sectional should be much more wide open then. But many think that will be too late to help the Perry County teams. Perry Central’s Ashley Graves and Tell City’s McKenzie Hayes, two of the best post players in Perry County history if not the two best, graduate this spring.
So Perry Central will have little height and Tell City will have only two players with much varsity experience next year.
When Muensterman injured her ankle a few weeks ago, some wondered if that might open the door for the Perry County teams to have a better shot at the sectional this year.
Muensterman returned to action in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship game against Castle Thursday.
Steve Ford reported in the Evansville Courier & Press that she “looked a little rusty” from her layoff. And she did hit only 6 of 18 shots from the field.
But four of the ones she made were three-pointers and she finished with 19 points. Most players would love to look that rusty.
She will have another week of practice and Tuesday’s first-round game against South Spencer to work off the rust before Friday’s semifinals (Tell City drew a first-round bye and will likely have to face the Wildcats in the semifinals).
Even without her, Mater Dei would still be the favorite in this week’s sectional.
Next would probably be 13-7 Southridge and 13-8 North Posey, which will meet in a first-round game Wednesday.
Southridge won the PAC title with a 7-1 record and Coach Greg Werner’s team always plays strong defense, especially at sectional time.
But the Raiders did lose to Tecumseh, which both Perry Central and Tell City defeated. And Tell City beat North Posey at North Posey.
So even though Tell City and Perry Central are just over .500 for the season (each is 11-10 entering the sectional), they would have to be considered strongly in the mix for the title without Mater Dei in the picture.
If momentum going into the sectional is considered, though, the Perry County teams probably fall out of the top four in the field, as Mater Dei, Southridge, North Posey and Forest Park (Perry Central’s first-round opponent Wednesday) are all playing better lately.
Perry Central, which started the season 10-3, has beaten only winless Rock Creek in its last eight games.
Tell City has lost its last three games.
Perry Central has gone into a shooting slump, causing opposing defenses to collapse more around Graves inside.
Hayes has also been unable to dominate inside lately. In fact her younger sister, Kassidie, has been the Marksmen’s top inside player lately.
Kassidie has averaged 15.0 points and hit 85.7 percent from the field in the last two games; McKenzie has averaged 8.0 points and hit 33.3 percent in those games.
Can one or both Perry County teams turn around their recent tailspins this week? Time will tell, but a few surprises usually do occur in the sectional.